AGORA COLLECTIVE - Interview with Tainá Moreno

Felipe Duarte | english

Tainá Moreno is the inspiring Managing Director of Agora Mittelweg (agoracollective.org). We talked about the importance of art in business, play and creativity, being crazy, building of meaning and community amongst peers and about Agora`s past, present and future.

Don`t know Agora? Check this video and the pictures that Illustrate this interview. Next time you are in Berlin, don`t forget the middle path – Agora Collective, Mittelweg 50.

For those who don`t know you, tell us a bit about yourself, as a creator, entrepreneur and human.

I grew up in the backstage of the theatre. My parents, both actors, showed me, beautifully, the meaning of going to work to play. I learned a lot from watching them building and unbuilding with such hard work and so much lightness these moments of intimacy and fantasy.

I found my creative output in producing and see my strength in working together with others building on to ideas and narratives and transforming them into practice. At first this process manifested itself through theatre, then film, which I studied in Amsterdam, graduating as a film producer in 2012. Now it found its home in Agora, where I produce possibilities.

In work, I find the biggest drive in creating a space for the unexpected and formats for people to explore their consciousness and curiosities. Be it in their work, their food, their learning or their art. Having all of these elements under one roof, I find passion in blurring these lines and exploring where they meet and intersect.

Psychology, mythology and all things occult move me and I am on an active quest for balance. I connect with it through meditation, my food and lately through yoga, but many times by doing the exact opposite of all these things.

What about AGORA, the coworking you are a partner off in Berlin – what should we know about it? Is it in some way unique?

Agora is many things to many people and in a way we, the founders, or active members running the space, just opened the doors. The ideas and people with their projects followed shortly after. Agora is a space for experimentation, it’s a space for the unexpected and for the ‘nothing at all’, for the just being. For me the co-working space is just an element of the entire thing as the food, the arts and the educational formats weigh as heavily. Looking from a co-working perspective though I think what makes Agora unique is its interaction with the arts and combining that under one roof with it’s shared office spaces.

How is agora related to the collaborative economy?

Mostly through its network and community. Many initiatives that are active in this sphere have their home base in Agora or pass through it’s doors to present their content to a wider audience or find peers to develop them further. We have a healthy and admiring friendship towards the Ouishare community amongst many others and are actively seeking and researching on how to change the models we work in from within our own organisation.

Connecting the Dots, what aspects of AGORA are your doing – and how do they relate with the other aspects of the business?

My role is of Managing Director of Agora Mittelweg, Agora’s first space. My job is keeping the team together, keeping a healthy outlook for its running programmes and looking out for future opportunities. Its mostly making sure that all dots stay connected and communicating. In the developments of the new space I contribute with my network and of the forming of how this new space should grow and in which ways. But much more from an idea level then operationally.

How do you deal with each day? What morning, afternoon and night mean in terms of action?

I’m struggling a bit with efficiency and knowing when to stop my days. My work life is very intertwined with my personal life, which is fantastic, but requires discipline from my side to ‘turn off’, which I often don’t have. In the mornings I usually plan my meetings as I have extreme difficulties in waking up if no one is waiting for me :). Afternoons more computer work and in the evenings events that might happen either in the space or in other locations which I’m interested to see for inspiration, because it’s from partners or any other reason. To be honest each day pretty much revolves around food. I get very excited, day after day for each meal, so I plan my meetings strategically around that.

What do you see yourself as being great at? And bad at? How do they relate to how you navigate your life, professionally and personally?

I’m good at re-inventing myself/my work. I’m good at motivating people, I’m good at taking a fuzzy idea and putting it in tangible steps. I’m not a disciplined person, I’m easily distracted, do too much at the same time which affects the quality of what is being done. I have a difficulty with consistency, being present full days, 09.00 to 17.00 is very difficult for me to maintain although many times that is what I need to do. I’m good in telling stories and I’m good at introducing people to each other.  

How do you see the challenges the business faced in the beginning? How do these challenges change as you’ve grown?

I see them as super sweet when I look at the ones we are facing now. They had to do with building identity and developing focus. The challenges now have more to do with growing pains and understanding what needs to stay and what needs to change. That process is quite difficult.

Can you let us know more about the new location?

The new location is a beautiful opportunity, but a tough one. We have found amazing partners to purchase the property for us and give us a long term perspective very few projects can count on. Having such ‘landlords’, that understand the nature of what we do, see the purpose of it and endorse that, is a rare treasure in the land of property development. That being said the whole development of the new space is not easy internally. The team had to grow fast to handle the developments and it’s been hard to really align all wishes, ambitions and narratives as well as understanding the fears and insecurities of all people involved is not always easy. The new location is everything we could never do in the old; planning long term, being messy, having accessible prices from which we can built our line of business from sustainably. It’s a place we can paint with more ‘colours’. As it is also the place that brings the need for professionalisation and the growing away from certain habits and cultures that are actually, some times, quiet beautiful to keep. The challenge is to bridge all of those things right now and maintain the two houses aligned as it grows from a project built by a community and it’s dreams to an institution with a long term vision. I believe it’s possible for those two to walk hand in hand, it just comes with some roadblocks on the way.

What has helped you in your path that you could share with others? (mental models, books, practices, pieces of art, anything)

Knowing when to ask for help and knowing when not to work at all! Going to conferences such as Ouishare or gatherings such as Neotribes have inspired me a great lot in how to do my work. When inventing ones one job, it’s quite helpful to meet peers going through similar struggles and inspirations. It’s a moment to realize; I’m still quite crazy, but there’s this bunch of other crazy people too :). Other then that the continuous surrounding myself with art and my books take me a long way. Funnily enough I play around with the Tarot and Itching quite a lot to clear my mind when I need to make big decisions. Its super valuable for me to trigger my subconscious to come more to the surface. I believe we carry all answers inside of us already. The cards, or other tools like that can help a great deal if you take them in a symbolic way and not in an absolute one.

How did the people you’ve met in the coworking influenced your journey here so far?

They formed this place to what it is. Becoming good friends, collaborators or showing us new opportunities. The foundation who purchased the property of Agora Rollberg for example was introduced to us by one of our co-workers. We have many beautiful examples like that.

Often we meet strangers that develop the roles of allies in our personal/professional life, how’s this happened to you?

A lot of the people that I spend most of my time with now days where strangers, they are definitely strong allies now.  

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